Churches in modern-day America are embracing new traditions and avoiding topics popular in past decades.
The drastic changes from traditional church to contemporary church curates an ongoing conversation of whether or not these changes are doing more harm than good. Some might say that churches are trying to conform to societal norms to gain a stronger following. Topics such as sin, hell or the book of Revelations are less popular because pastors do not want to offend the congregation.
Marcus Gonzalez, one of the young adult pastors at Christ Fellowship in Royal Palm, discusses sin with his students and how it pertains to their life and walk with the Lord.
“I think some churches shy away from it because biblical preachy terms like ‘sin’ puts people off,” Gonzalez said. “ It feels like judgment and that’s why they don’t immediately go to something condemning like sin.”
Pastor Jon Elswick, lead pastor at Crossway Church in Davie, Fla., spoke on behalf of his church rather than American churches as a whole when it comes to preaching about sin.
“My conviction personally is the most important thing is teaching the Word of God in a way that’s gracious and loving but also in a way that it is standing on the truth of the Word of God.”
Elswick also mentioned how sin is a complicated topic that our society tends to avoid and how that affects his approach when constructing sermons.
“I understand that talking about some cultural issues or certain sins might be difficult for our culture to hear. And there’s a temptation, personally, to want to down play that because, as a pastor, you want people to come to your church and you want positive press.”
The flashy light shows and big-budget productions are another controversial trend.
Even though Crossway Church does not have an elaborate worship production, Elswick mentioned how using these tactics is a way to contextualize the message of the Gospel.
“The [pastors] I know who are [using entertaining worship] believe that they are going to put the message in a cultural language… because they have a heart to evangelize. That’s really what I’ve seen,” Elswick said. “It’s a heart to reach the lost, and they believe that that’s going to be the most effective way to do it.”
The future of American churches seems ambiguous considering the variety of methods among different congregations; however, there is a sense of hope that churches are heading into the right direction.
Although Elswick did not comment in regards to all churches across the country, he spoke for churches in close proximity to Crossway.
“I think what I’m excited about as far as the future of churches in Broward and West Palm Beach County is unity. That’s actually what I see. I see the impact of multiple churches working together,” Elswick said. “I think when the community of unbelievers look out, they see that this big church and this small church and this flashy church and this non-flashy church are working together for the good of community. That makes a statement to the community that's really compelling and beautiful. That’s what I see.”
On the other hand, Gonzalez spoke universally, saying that he believes the outcome of churches depends on pastors and people.
“That varies on the leadership. Whether people are still in the Word and still trying to preach the Word and put aside their own personal opinion,” Gonzalez said.